At the risk of offending you in my first sentence, working podcasters can sometimes be a bit of a buzzkill. From the point of view of a new person entering podcasting for the sake of being creative, it can seem that the podcasting industry has sucked all the fun out of podcasting.
(Yes, I fully recognize my own complicitness complicity in this and therefore the ironic nature of today’s chosen topic.)
It may be an over-reach on my part, but it seems that every book, every course, and every workshop is about creating a successful podcast. A successful podcast that will reach hundreds, thousands, or maybe even millions of people.
But… is having a huge and monetizable show the only measurement of success?
Creators Want To Be Better Creatives... Just Because
Think back to the creative writing classes you may have taken in high school or in college. Or consider the friends you know who participate in writing groups or pay for seminars to get better at the craft of writing. Writing that may only be expressed in a funny essay they send to family and friends at the end of the year. Or to be added to a notebook along with other prose or poetry they’ve written. A notebook that will see no distribution beyond the shelf in the study upon which it will sit when filled.
Consider the painters you know or have seen in movies. People happy people setting up their easels to capture the sunset on canvas once or twice a month. They take classes. They spend lots of time—and money—in the art supply store as they strive to become a better painter for the singular purpose of placing onto canvas what they see with their eyes.
I know photographers who schlep crazy amounts of expensive cameras and gear with them as they travel so they can preserve their memories. Or because framing just the right picture makes their experience of the place that much better and enjoyable for them.
Singer/songwriters who only ever play at open mic nights or around a campfire with friends still take lessons to improve their voice or their guitar chops.
The comedians at your local comedy club or improv troop often take classes to hone their craft just so they put on better performances for the sparse audience in attendance.
Even with organizations like Toastmasters, people sign up to become better public speakers with little interest in becoming in-demand keynote speakers on stages the world over.
Creative First, Commercial… Never?
Yes, all of these creative endeavors offer some a commercial path. A way to earn money—for beer, for a living wage, or for wealth-accumulation—that, for a few, will certainly be successful.
But for most, commercialization of their art isn't the starting point. If it’s a consideration at all! Most don’t take the class, attend the workshop, or buy the book so that they can monetize their creativity. They take the class, attend the workshop, and buy the books so that they can become better at their creative expressions.
There’s nothing unique about podcasting that precludes that same breakdown of why people podcast and why they want to improve. So where are the support groups for podcasters who want to be successfully creative? Who is out there making content for podcasters who care not one iota about commercial success?
Is a podcast worth making if no one is listening to it? Of course it is! And who the hell are you and I to say anything different?
The only people who see the creations of most painters are friends and family who visit the painter’s home. That’s likely an exceedingly small number of people, so the creator of that painting spends exactly none of their time poring over “metrics”. It’s not like the art supply store pushes traffic-tracking solutions on that painter. Or any painter.
The number of grandfathers attempting to measure the happiness or mirth of their family as the yearly letter is ready is zilch. The creative writing class he took in the fall didn’t try to convince him to add tracking URLs to his emails. Or tracking devices in the envelopes. Creepy.
Podcasting Forces Creatives To Measure Their Success
I know that saying podcasting forces measurement is a harsh criticism of my chosen industry. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that all digital channels tend to force measurement. We measure things in digital because… well, we can measure things in digital. And yes, some creators want measurement. I recall the early days of digital when measurement wasn’t built-in. And no, I’m not advocating we go back to that world.
However, we need to understand that while those of us working in podcasting can—and do—get caught up in how to measure, what to measure, and what to present as an accurate measurement; most podcasters just want to be successfully creative.
And that means we’re making a lot of noise about something most podcasters don’t care about. Or would really prefer not caring about, lamenting that the djinn is out of the bottle.
I’m not advocating for a clear delineation between “serious” podcasters and “hobbyist” podcasters. But I am advocating that we—me included—try to be more cognizant of the purely-creative podcasters. And I’m urging you—and me—to remember that they far outnumber us.
Podcasters like you and me who’ve found some measurement of success in podcasting still have things of value to share with the purely creative podcasters. And not just “how to make the jump from hobbyist to pro” paths. We have things to share because we're creative podcasters too. Let's not forget that, and let's make sure we’re doing our part to help others become successful in their own desires to become more creative.
Switching topics: I’ll remind you that BuyMeACoffee.com/evoterra exists. And I’ll tell you that I’m providing some special social audio perks for those who’ve signed up for a membership there. if you would like to get in on that action, sign up for a membership and I'll send you all the details.
Finally, please tell a friend about Podcast Pontifications. And also tell that podcasting friend that it's ok to just be creative if that’s what they want.
I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.
Podcast Pontifications is written and narrated by Evo Terra. He’s on a mission to make podcasting better. Allie Press proofed the copy, corrected the transcript, and edited the video. Podcast Pontifications is a production of Simpler Media.